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                    "THE EPISTLE TO THE PHILIPPIANS"

                    Rejoice In The Lord Always! (4:4)

INTRODUCTION

1. In the final chapter of Philippians, we find Paul giving exhortations
   that are both specific and general in nature...
   a. We saw in verses 1-3 where Paul gave specific exhortations to
      individuals there at Philippi
   b. Now in verse 4, we find the first of several exhortations which
      are certainly needful for all Christians:
      
        "Rejoice in the Lord always.  Again I will say, rejoice!"

2. You may recall that "joy" is the keynote of this epistle
   a. No less than sixteen times in this epistle, Paul uses the word or
      a derivation of it!
   b. Cf. Php 1:4,18(twice),25; 2:2,17(twice),18(twice),28,29; 3:1;
      4:1,4(twice),10

3. In this study, I will share a few observations about how we are to
   "Rejoice In The Lord Always!"

[First, notice that...]

I. THIS JOY IS TO BE EXPERIENCED "ALWAYS"

   A. NOT JUST AN OCCASIONAL EXPERIENCE, FOR EXCEPTIONAL PEOPLE...
      1. But in darkness as well as in light; in trials as well as in
         triumphs - cf. Jm 1:2-3; Ro 5:3-4
      2. Not just for apostles, but for all Christians - cf. Jm 1:2-3;
         1Pe 4:12-13

   B. CONSIDER THE EXAMPLE OF PAUL, WHO FOUND JOY "ALWAYS"...
      1. In his prayers - Php 1:4
      2. In the proclamation of the gospel under adverse circumstances 
         - Php 1:18
      3. In the unity of the saints - Php 2:2
      4. In the prospect of being a martyr for Christ - Php 2:17 
      5. In the love of the brethren - Php 4:10

[Truly Paul rejoiced "always"!  But what was his secret?  What was the
source of this abiding joy?]

II. THIS ABIDING JOY IS FOUND "IN THE LORD"

   A. THERE MAY BE "TEMPORARY" JOY...
      1. In drugs (including alcohol and tobacco)
      2. In sexual pleasures (whether lawful or unlawful)
      3. In material acquisitions
      -- But these are at best like riches, which "make themselves wings;
         they fly away like an eagle toward heaven" (Pr 23:5); and at
         worst, are "the passing pleasures of sin" (He 11:25)

   B. BUT THE JOY THAT "ABIDES" IS ONLY "IN THE LORD"...
      1. I.e., that which comes from a personal, living and fruitful
         relationship with the Lord
      2. For "in the Lord" we enjoy:
         a. Peace with God - Ro 5:2
         b. Help in temptations - 1Co 10:13; Php 4:13
         c. Assurance of God's companionship in time of trial - He
            13:5-6
      3. These are the sort of things which provide a true and lasting
         joy

[Wouldn't it be wonderful to be able to experience this "abiding joy"?  
Well, why don't we?  Why do many of those who have a personal 
relationship with the Lord often find themselves lacking joy in all 
circumstances?

Perhaps it is because...]

III. THERE ARE OFTEN HINDRANCES TO "ABIDING JOY"

   A. MEMORIES OF PAST FAILURES; AWARENESS OF PRESENT FAULTS...
      1. Such often leaves people in a state of discouragement or
         depression
      2. Paul, however, provides the solution in Php 3:12-14
         a. Realize your imperfection, yet press on to better things!
         b. Forget your past failures, reach forward to future successes!

   B. NATURAL TEMPERAMENT OR DISPOSITION...
      1. Many people are naturally "melancholy"
         a. Through genetic predisposition toward such an attitude
         b. Or through environmental influences as we were growing up
      2. Yet in Christ, we can be transformed (Ro 12:1-2) and produce
         the "fruit of the Spirit" which includes "joy" - Ga 5:22

   C. DEPRESSING CIRCUMSTANCES...
      1. It is easy to be joyful when everything is going well, but when
         things wrong, well...
      2. However, we see from the Scriptures that even those times can
         be a time for rejoicing if we have the right "perspective" 
         - Jm 1:2-4

   D. SYMPATHY WITH OTHERS...
      1. Certainly, a compassionate heart cannot be untouched by the
         hardships of others - cf. Ro 12:15
      2. And yet, properly spoken words of comfort and counsel can
         provide a joyful reprieve from the hardships others bear - cf.
         Pr 16:24

CONCLUSION

1. "Rejoice in the Lord always"...
   a. Does not mean one is to be insensitive to the harsh realities of
      life
   b. But it does mean that one does not let the dark realities of life
      blind him to the radiance of joy that is found in the Lord!

2. Have you found yourself going through life without the "abiding joy"
   discussed in our text, that joy which Peter himself defines as
   "inexpressible" (1Pe 1:8)?

3. If so, then make your relationship with the Lord what it ought to
   be...
   a. First by rendering complete obedience to His Will
   b. And then by letting the counsel of His Spririt-given Word give you
      the perspectives necessary to "Rejoice In The Lord Always!"
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